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Archive for April, 2009

Feds Question Jesse Jackson Jr. in Blago Case

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

In Chicago politics, where ever there’s smoke, at minimum, there’s more smoke. We’ll see if there’s any fire here. This probe could still have more legs.

NATASHA KORECKI AND FRAN SPIELMAN
Chicago Sun-Times
CHICAGO — Federal authorities have asked U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson (D.-Ill) why former Gov. Rod Blagojevich believed he would get campaign cash in exchange for appointing Jackson to President Obama’s vacant Senate seat, sources told the Sun-Times.

More than a week ago, Jackson and his criminal defense lawyer sat down for an interview with investigators in connection with the ongoing corruption probe of the now-indicted Blagojevich.

Among the areas of interest, sources say, was what Jackson told his representatives to convey to the Blagojevich camp on his behalf last year — a time Jackson sought the Senate seat appointment.

And, in a signal that the probe into dealings involving a possible Jackson appointment is still under way, witnesses and possible evidence involved in that part of the alleged scheme were recently subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, sources say.

Jackson’s recent interview took place nearly four months after he publicly announced he wasn’t a target in the probe and said then that he expected to sit down with the feds in a matter of days. He isn’t accused of wrongdoing and has said he never gave anyone the authority to trade cash for the appointment.

For Full Story

Justice Department Still Moving Against Aging Nazis

Holocaust memorialBy Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
WASHINGTON — They’re getting up there in age, but the Justice Department continues to take action against Nazi guards living in the U.S.

The lastest effort is against Anton Geiser, 84, of Sharon, Pa., who authorities say served as an armed SS guard at two Nazi concentration camps in Germany during World War II.

The Justice Department announced last Friday that it had launched removal proceeedings against Geiser.

The latest move comes as the U.S. battles to deport suspected Nazi guard John Demjanjuk, 89. Demjanjuk of Ohio was supposed to be deported to Germany by Monday, but he got a last minute stay in court. That stay was lifted on Monday by an immigration judge, but Demjanjuk plans to appeal.

Geiser served as a guard in Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp near Berlin and at Buchenwald Concentration Camp, authorities said.

He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1962 and his citizenship was revoked in 2006 because “his service to Nazi Germany made him ineligible to enter the United States,” the Justice Department said.

“Through his service as a Nazi concentration camp guard, Anton Geiser helped subject thousands of innocent civilians to inhumane and frequently lethal treatment,” Acting Assistant Attorney Gen. Rita M. Glavin said in a prepared statement. “The United States will not provide a safe haven for such individuals.”

The Justice Department’s Office of Special Investigations, which was created in 1979 to deal with Nazis in the U.S., has reportedly won more than 100 cases against Nazis.

Alabama U.S. Atty. Deborah Rhodes Latest to Step Down

U.S. Atty. Deborah Rhodes

U.S. Atty. Deborah Rhodes

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
U.S. Attorney Deborah Rhodes of Alabama’s Southern District in Mobile becomes the latest U.S. Attorney to step down.

The Press-Register in Alabama reported that the prosecutor will step down April 17.

Rhodes assumed the position initially on an interim basis in 2005 after U.S. Attorney David York resigned “amid allegations of an improper relationship with an assistant prosecutor”, the paper said.

She became the permanent U.S. Attorney in 2006.

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis and a panel has recommended that federal prosecutor Vicki Davis get the post. A rival panel has recommended former District Attorney Barrown Lankster, the Press-Register reported.

“She’s been a terrific leader for this office…,” Maria Murphy, criminal division chief for the U.S. Attorney’s Office told the paper. “I think we will all be sorry to see her go.”

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Ex-U.S. Atty. Christopher Christie Defends No Bid Contract

Former U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie is finding out that running for Governor comes with a lot of public scrutiny — more than being U.S. Attorney. And as the race heats up, it’s likely to intensify.

Christopher Christie

Christopher Christie

By ANGELA DELLI SANTI
The Associated Press
TRENTON – Former U.S. attorney Christopher Christie, who is running for governor as a Republican in New Jersey, defended handing a multi-million-dollar, no bid contract to an ex-federal prosecutor who declined to criminally prosecute Christie’s brother on stock fraud charges two years earlier.

“We made the selections based upon who we thought were the most qualified, the best, to be able to execute these jobs,” Christie said of the lawyers he hand-picked to receive lucrative federal monitoring contracts.

The leading candidate for New Jersey’s Republican gubernatorial nomination called a news conference Monday to address growing concerns over his use of deferred prosecution agreements while serving as U.S. attorney.

The agreements are settlements between the government and a corporation accused of wrongdoing that use a monitor to resolve white-collar crime allegations without a federal trial.

Christie chose David Kelley in 2007 to help oversee an out-of-court settlement with five medical device manufacturers implicated in a doctor kickback scheme. Two years earlier as U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, Kelley investigated a stock fraud case in which 20 traders including Christie’s younger brother, Todd, were accused of improper trading. Todd Christie was one of five traders not charged criminally; his company paid a civil penalty of $16.5 million.

Christie Says Don’t Make My Brother an Issue (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Obama Administration Defends Bush Wiretaps

at-tNow this is when it all gets interesting.  The Obama administration has advocated transparency and has been critical of the Bush administration trampling on constitutional rights. Now it is defending the Bush regime’s actions. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the court of public opinion.

By Bob Egelko
San Francisco Chronicle
SAN FRANCISCO — The Obama administration is again invoking government secrecy in defending the Bush administration’s wiretapping program, this time against a lawsuit by AT&T customers who claim federal agents illegally intercepted their phone calls and gained access to their records.Disclosure of information sought by the customers, “which concerns how the United States seeks to detect and prevent terrorist attacks, would cause exceptionally grave harm to national security,” Justice Department lawyers said in papers filed Friday in San Francisco.

Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lawyer for the customers, said Monday the filing was disappointing in light of the Obama presidential campaign’s “unceasing criticism of Bush-era secrecy and promise for more transparency.”

In a 2006 lawsuit, the AT&T plaintiffs accused the company of allowing the National Security Agency to intercept calls and e-mails and inspect records of millions of customers without warrants or evidence of wrongdoing.

For Full Story

Ex-N.Y. Gov Eliot Spitzer Talks About His Scandal

Ex- New York Times Reporter Judith Miller Says Press Battle With Ex-Fed Prosecutor Shows Need For Shield Law

By Judith Miller
New York Post

ON April 20, Detroit Free Press reporter David Ashenfelter may win his second Pulitzer Prize.

Judith Miller/photo judithmiller.com

Judith Miller/photo judithmiller.com

The next day, he may head to jail.

Ashenfelter, 60, is the latest reporter to face prison for refusing to reveal his confidential sources — in this case, for a story he wrote in 2004 about alleged misconduct by a prosecutor in a terrorism case in Detroit soon after 9/11.

Jail time became a real possibility when US District Judge Robert Cleland recently refused to delay Ashenfelter’s deposition about his sources or let him take his case to an appeals court.

The case is unusual in that Ashenfelter claims that his refusal to divulge the identify of his sources is justified not only by the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression, but also by the Fifth Amendment, which protects him against self-incrimination.

Many journalists have been uneasy about this invocation of the Fifth Amendment — arguing that it suggests, inaccurately, that he may have done something wrong. But the lack of a federal shield law that would legitimize his stance has forced Ashenfelter to resort to some legal creativity.

For Full Story

Ex-Gov. Blago May Have to Test his Fundraising Skills to Raise Cash For Lawyers

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich

Ex-Gov. Blagojevich

No question ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich is going to line up a top notch defense team. But he may not get exactly who he wants if he doesn’t come up with cash. Too late to shake down everyone in exchange for favors. He has nothing to offer. Now his fund raising skills will be put to the test.


Lynne Marek
The National Law Journal

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s criminal defense team is still in flux even as a whopping 75-page federal indictment landed on him this week.

The ex-governor, who was socked with political corruption charges in December, hasn’t been able to solidify his criminal defense team mainly because it has been unclear how he will pay his lawyers if the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago freezes his campaign funds, which otherwise could be used to pay his attorney fees.

While several Chicago criminal defense lawyers, including Terry Gillespie and Alan Brunell, say they have spoken with the governor about working on the case, final decisions have hung in the balance because of a lack of clarity on the money issue and the extensiveness on the indictment. Assessment of those issues can begin now in light of the April 2 indictment naming not only the governor, but also the governor’s brother and campaign fund chairman, Robert Blagojevich, among other defendants.
For Full Story

OTHER STORIES OF INTEREST

Judge  Orders Justice to Turn Over Documents in Stevens Case (Washington Post)